Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Name Game


"We celebrate the addition of Thomas Anthony OwoNugisha..." reads our church bulletin this week. And the misspellings begin. Actually, they started in Uganda, where Tommy's name was misspelled on his town birth certificate as "Oklomugisha."

Jeff and I talked extensively about whether or not we would change the name of our adopted child, and, without knowing what it might be, decided that if the baby was named by a parent or other family member we would keep and use that name. However, if the baby was named by the orphanage we would consider keeping that name, but likely use it as a middle name and add a family name. We knew that if our child was named by an orphange he or she would have both an English and a Ugandan name, and that we would keep both.

When we received Tommy's file, he was presented to us as "Anthony Oklomugisha." We decided to keep both names, and add on my father's name, Thomas. We planned to call him Tommy, and hoped- beyond hope- that the orphanage had shortened Anthony to "Tony," as the difference between Tommy and Tony is small, especially when you factor in our accents.

Imagine our surprise when we asked the Sister what she called him, and she replied "Baby Jesus. Or just Jesus." That's Jesus with a J, not an H.

Hmmmmm. A far cry from Tony. Or Anthony. Or Owomugisha.

JESUS! She called him Jesus. I still can't get over it. It was just so ...unexpected.

We asked why and we received two very different answers. The first was that he came to the home as a newborn, and many of the babies come in when they are already a few weeks or months old, so the older children (in the three to five year range) were very excited about him and liked to sing him songs, and they got confused because the songs they sang to him were about Jesus, so they started to think he was Jesus.

The second explanation we did not fully understand, but it had something to do with sickness, a miracle, and salvation, and somehow from that his name became Jesus.

Either way he might develop a Messiah complex. He already suffers from confusion during praise songs.

Besides, I can't call my child Jesus. I just can't. And calling him "H"esus, would be a name change too. So, we called him "baby" for the first few weeks, interspersed with Tommy. When he began responding readily to Tommy, we started using it more than "baby."

Now he loves to play "where's Tommy?"


We decided to keep "Anthony" and "Owomugisha" even though Sister insisted that they never called him Anthony and they randomly picked the name off a calendar of Saints (I'm guessing they named him on April 19th the feast day of St. Pavoni, Anthony). He was Anthony to us first, and we like the meaning: "worthy of praise" or "flourishing."

We especially loved the meaning of his Ugandan name "Owomugisha." The full name means "He (the bearer of the name) is blessed." The shortened version, "Mugisha" means "blessing" or "blessed." We think it is appropriate.

5 comments:

Katie said...

Its so cool to hear more of Tommy's story:)! I'm praying that the whole family has all the energy and grace you need to adjust. I'm so happy for you guys:)

lauragifford said...

Love it! Yes, I can see how calling your child Jesus would be a bit uncomfortable... not only for the Messiah complex issues, but how does one discipline? "Jesus! Get OFF that [insert problematic object to climb on] RIGHT NOW!" I'm so happy to hear everyone is settling in. Blessings to you all and I will look forward to meeting Tommy someday!

Heather said...

I was wondering why you guys were calling him Baby in all the videos. I'm glad he's adjusted to his name now!

jena said...

What a great post! He is indeed a blessing!

Amy Jo said...

Tommy is a great name! (Yes, I'm a little biased since I have one at home myself!) Congrats again! I so look forward to watching Tommy grow up.